The incident of Kashmiri embroidery artist, Farooq Ahmed Dar being used as a “human shield” by Indian Army to protect themselves against stone-pelters created quite a stir. On April 9, 2017, Major Leetul Gogoi tied him on the bonnet of an Army jeep while trying to rescue the polling workers who were surrounded by hundreds of stone-pelters.
It has been one year since the incident and now Dar claims that he is a broken man. Struggling to untangle the threads of his life, he is suffering from insomnia and depression. Following this incident, he was boycotted by the villagers and branded as a government agent. Since then, he has been unable to find any job including that of a manual laborer.
According to this 28-year-old, his life toppled in a way he never expected.
The Indian Army claimed that he was one of the main instigators among the stone-pelters. Farooq, however, has a different version to offer. He said after casting his vote, he was on his way to sister’s house before being grabbed by the Army and used as a shield. During an interview with PTI, he said:
“What was my mistake? Going to the polling booth and casting my ballot? “I am unable to sleep. Even medicines are ineffective. No one is giving me any work.”
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“I regret going out of my house on that day. I am not a politician nor do I intend to become one. But if casting a ballot is crime, who is going to come out to vote.”
He further added his dream of being famous with his work instead he is known for the wrong reasons:
“I wanted to make it big by making a beautiful Kashmiri shawl but I became famous for all the wrong reasons.”
On July 2017, Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission awarded Rs 10 lakh as compensation to Dar. However, it was rejected by PDP-BJP government citing that there are no rules under which the money should be paid. Dar, however, was more agitated with the news of the compensation than its rejection. He shared:
“The news about the compensation made this worse for me. People in my neighbourhood made sarcastic remarks about the compensation and criticised me for seeking justice for myself. It is not about the money but my dignity. If it is proved I was pelting stones, hang me. Or punish those responsible for my miserable present and bleak future.”
Here is a video of a witness recalling the incident:
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